14 Mar

Online Roundtable: Unlocking Entrepreneurship For Neurodivergent Offenders

Online Roundtable: Unlocking Entrepreneurship For Neurodivergent Offenders


Thursday 14th March    
6:00pm - 7:30pm


Event Type

Join us for an insightful – and rarely had – discussion to explore how we can eliminate stigma and barriers for neurodivergent offenders who are starting businesses, and support them to discover the joy, meaning, and connection that comes from entrepreneurship.

Everyone, regardless of their background, deserves a chance to find their light and follow their heart. At any given moment, any one of us may find ourselves in a situation where mistakes are made and a second chance is needed.

Neurodivergent individuals are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, as highlighted in a report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons on Neurodiversity in the Criminal Justice System (Neurodiversity in the Criminal Justice System, 2021). According to the report, approximately half the individuals entering prisons are likely to have some form of neurodivergence.

Several reasons contribute to the overrepresentation of neurodivergent people in the criminal justice system – primarily, the inaccessibility of our society. 

Our world is not designed for neurodivergent individuals, often resulting in experiences such as hypersensitivity to emotions and communication differences being misinterpreted in the worst possible way. Additionally, a perceived lack of opportunities can create a sense of desperation, pushing individuals towards unfortunate situations.

As a society, it is crucial that we recognise the inherent value within each one of us and the role we can all play in creating a society of belonging, empowerment, and connection. 

For our next roundtable, Joyfully Different Co-Founder and former Civilian Police Adviser Mark Blake will be joined by Phil Ashford, Director of Supersonic Startup, to lead an important discussion about how we can move beyond labels and stigma to empower neurodivergent offenders in the world of business.

Mark and Phil will discuss:

  • What challenges related to stigma do neurodivergent offenders face when starting businesses?
  • What empowerment do neurodivergent offenders experience through launching their own businesses?
  • What barriers does the criminal justice system add to neurodivergent offenders trying to start businesses?
  • What resources do you believe are necessary to empower more businesses run by neurodivergent offenders?

About our guest

Phil is an experienced and accredited business adviser with a background in both the private and public sectors, specialising in pre-start-up business advice for people with additional barriers. He has designed a self-employment programme in HMP Lewes that has been taught in 11 prisons and six probations. The self-employment programme was featured on the ITV documentary Ross Kemp: Welcome to HMP Belmarsh.

Phil has lectured in schools, colleges and Universities in Germany. A former Director at Business Link, Phil was for 10 years the Chair of Trustees of  Lewes charity Furniture Now.  As Director of Enterprise Exchange, Phil’s team won three awards for Enterprise Engagement and Innovation in Enterprise. Phil is a Non-Exec Director for the National Enterprise Network and Joyfully Different.

What format will the event take?

The event will last for 1 hour and 30 minutes, with rough timings as follows:

  • 10 mins – Welcome and time to settle in
  • 10 mins – Introduction from Mark
  • 55 mins – Questions & Facilitated Discussion
  • 15 mins – Closing comments, announcements & event end

Who is this session for?

This roundtable is open to any business owners, leaders or aspiring entrepreneurs who identify as neurodivergent or suspect they might be neurodivergent or anyone working with offenders.

Event details

  • Date: Thursday 14th March 2024
  • Start Time: 18:00 GMT
  • End time: 19:30 GMT
  • Location: Online (Zoom link will be provided upon registration)
  • Cost: FREE to attend for members OR £5 to drop in

If you can’t attend live, don’t worry! A recording of the event will be made available to everyone who registers as well as our community members.

About Joyfully Different

Our mission is to make business joyful for neurodivergent founders. We’re a non-profit business community and learning hub for neurodivergent business owners, leaders and future founders. We believe self-diagnosis is completely valid – we aim to support everyone who needs us.

Want to find out more about our mission and how to sign up as a member? Head on over to joyfullydifferent.co

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